“Oh, you hate your job? Why didn’t you say so? There’s a support group for that. It’s called EVERYBODY and they meet at the bar.” – Drew Carey
You thought law school would be a good investment. “Even if I don’t become a lawyer,” you proudly announced, “I will have many, many options. A J.D., after all, is so valuable.” When staring down a crushing mountain of student loans, you signed on the dotted line. “Who can put a price on the doors a J.D. will open up for me?” If you knew this guy back then, you might have thought twice, but you didn’t.
Today, four, six, or ten years later, you spend late nights staring at your J.D. in its pristine frame, tears of rage streaming down your face. “Where are MY DOORS??” you scream at it, sobbing into your sea of briefs or closing sets or brown liquor. Instead of doors, why are there enormous walls and sets of handcuffs (and not the good kind)? Why is it that you hate every job opening you might qualify for? I mean, you got your J.D., and you’re a grown-up lawyer who brilliantly catches typos.
I’m eight years out of law school and many of my classmates – including some of the gunnerest of gunners – are now in industries like legal technology, legal practice products, deal consulting, and law firm professional development. A director at a global fashion house in Latin America. A professional poker player. And my favorite: founding a service for renting gentlemen.
So how do you get from here to there? How does a lawyer really stop being a practicing lawyer?
It’s the one about the tech-illiterate Biglaw associate (I know, you’ve heard that one) who walks away from her promising career at one of the most prestigious law firms in the country . . . to invent a new category of software. . . for litigating! A magical software program that makes you better as a litigator and is so cool that you wish you thought of it yourself.
For this next profile in legal entrepreneurship, I’m excited to introduce Alma Asay, creator of Allegory. You may not have heard of Allegory yet, but pretty soon, it will be a household name for every litigator who wants to be at the top of their game.
Alma’s story has a special place in my heart because she is living my dream: bringing her success in Biglaw to the whole legal community through the wonders of technology. I met Alma earlier this year in Palo Alto, where she was embracing her inner Silicon Valley and I was speaking at Stanford Law’s awesome CodeX FutureLaw conference. We chatted over cocktails about the legal industry, law firm shenanigans, and life after Biglaw for those of us who didn’t run away screaming. I loved her stories of adventures in legal startup, and her product. Hopefully, you will too.
(Did I mention I get paid by the click? I’m kidding, but really, keep reading . . . this is a good one).
If the legal industry today is the Matrix, which character would you be?
Oh, we are Morpheus. Definitely.
I spent 30 minutes with Morpheus Phil Weiss, founder of a group of over a thousand lawyers, policymakers, and technologists that meet up in bars, cafes, and creative workspaces from Brooklyn to San Francisco to Stockholm. They call their group Legal Hackers, and its mission is to hack the law.
What? Hack the law? Like, in public? In broad daylight? Is that legal?
“We call it extra-legal mechanisms. Not illegal. Extra-legal.” Weiss, a good-natured young lawyer (Brooklyn Law ’12, associate at Friedman Law Group), had the savvy of a well-read academic but the easygoing manner of a millennial.
So, extra-legal, huh? But “hacking the law” was still a bizarre concept for me. “Look,” Weiss patiently explained as my brain struggled to grasp the vision, “we just bring technologists and lawyers together to explore and create solutions at the intersection of law and technology.”
I started to understand. We’re not just talking about alternative career paths for lawyers; we’re talking about paradigm-shifting innovation to re-terraform the stodgy, old-school legal industry. We’re talking about a movement, a framework.
Since the launch of alt.legal, Ed and I have received a lot of very interesting emails and feedback. It is apparent that many of you read ATL literally allday love working in Biglaw, but most many have considered taking a walk onto the alternative side (sounds far more erotic than it is).
What we hope to prove to you through this ongoing column is that legal entrepreneurship is exciting, prestigious, lucrative, and, most importantly — to the many resilient lawyers out there who have remained idealistic in the face of back-to-back all-nighters — your best chance to change the legal system for the better. Moreover, despite what you think, innovation in the law is NOT just in e-discovery. Turns out, there are problems worth solving associated with almost every practice, and with each, there are entrepreneurs and innovators ready to change the game. (My co-author, Ed Sohn, is planning to write more on this underground world next time.)
Today, we profile one such entrepreneur, Adam Nguyen, who saw inefficiencies in the always-exciting process of contract review for due diligence (hey litigators, it turns out M&A lawyers have to do document review too), and leveraged $150,000 worth of Harvard Law-branded problem solving to create an innovative technology solution called eBrevia.
Ed. note: Please welcome our newest columnists, Ed Sohn and Joe Borstein of Pangea3, who will be writing about the alternative legal services market and the future of the legal profession.
Stop what you’re doing! Take a journey with us to the alternative side of the legal profession for the next few minutes (and through our ongoing column). There is a revolution happening in the practice of law. And you should join it. Or, at the very least, break out the fanny packs and the binoculars and watch. For now, stop your SmartTimer and get off the clock… because as it turns out, reading this is NOT billable. Maybe try your favorite non-billable code, like “professional development.”
Here’s the newsflash: entrepreneurs and innovators are changing the legal profession for the better, having fun, and making real money in the process. The unstoppable forces of modern business — technology, globalization, the need for sleep/food/conjugal visits — are at the gates and climbing the highly defensible ivory tower….
The information age we live in can be a blessing and a curse. Few fields demonstrate this truth more persuasively than the realm of electronic discovery.
During a panel here at the Legal Technology Leadership Summit on the theft and exfiltration of intellectual property, the panelists discussed the exponential growth in information densities, the increasing importance of IP, and the challenge that evolving technology presents to the governing legal frameworks. As one panelist noted: “Technology leaps, the law creeps.”
What does rapidly changing technology mean for the e-discovery world? And what are some considerations that in-house lawyers should keep in mind when responding to e-discovery requests?
Okay, I’m using the term “lifts” very loosely. We all know that outsourcing is taking work that used to be done by very expensive associates based in America and giving to inexpensive workers based in India. The law firm saves money, the client saves money, and the only people who are harmed are recent graduates of U.S. law schools.
But could outsourcing companies be poised to give something back to American law school graduates? Outsourcing companies aren’t ever going to replace the many lost Biglaw jobs that are never coming back, but they could be giving rise to some new opportunities.
I know lots of guys fantasize about boinking “barely legal” teenage girls. Not me, I like women: fully formed, adult women. There’s just something unseemly about older men salivating over girls who could have been in high school a year ago. Call me crazy, but it’s just more interesting as an adult to be intimate with other adults.
Similarly, I like my lawyers to actually practice law. There’s something unseemly about watching market forces turn law school graduates into glorified paralegals and secretaries. Call me a prude, but there’s just something gross about seeing young, nubile attorneys going around begging for document review positions. These people spent three years of their lives and six figures of their (or someone else’s) money to get law degrees; they should have something to show for their efforts.
But even if I don’t like to look, I can’t deny that this is happening. We are all living in a time that will be studied by future generations: a time when attorney career paths bifurcated, between traditional partnership-track associates and what I’ll call “barely legal” career paths….
As part of a nationwide tour, Above the Law is coming to the great city of Chicago.
Join preeminent law firm management consultant Bruce MacEwen, Katten Muchin Chicago managing partner Gil Sofer, and JPMorgan Chase & Co. assistant general counsel Jason Shaffer for a panel discussion (sponsored by Pangea3) on the evolutionary and market forces bearing down on the law firm business model. Come on by Thursday, November 20, at 6 p.m., for thought-provoking discussion, food, drink, and networking.
Space is limited and there will be no on-site registration, so please RSVP
Average law school debt for graduates of private universities hovered around $122,000 last year. With only 57% of new attorneys actually obtaining real lawyer jobs, recent graduates have a lot to consider when it comes to managing their student loan payments. Thanks to our friends at SoFi, today’s infographic takes a look at student loan debt, including the possible benefits of refinancing for JDs…
Kinney Recruiting’sEvan Jowers is currently in Hong Kong for client meetings and still has a few slots available through October 22. Evan will also be in Hong Kong November 14 to December 15. Further, Robert Kinney has been in Frankfurt and Munich this week and is available for meetings with our Germany based readers.
One of our key law firm clients has referred us to one of their important clients in the US, Europe and China – a leading global technology supplier for the auto industry – in order to handle their search for a new Asia General Counsel and Asia Chief Compliance Officer.
Kinney is exclusively handling this in-house search.
This position will have a lot of responsibility and include supervision of eight attorneys underneath them in the Asia in-house team. The new hire will report directly to the global general counsel and global chief compliance officer, who is based in the US. The new hire’s ability to make judgement calls is going to be as important as their technical skill set background.
The position is based in Shanghai and will deal with the company’s operations all over Asia and also in India, including frequent acquisitions in the region.
It is expected that the new hire will come from a top US firm’s Shanghai, Beijing or Hong Kong offices, currently in a top flight corporate practice at the senior associate, counsel or partner level. Of course, the candidate can be currently in a relevant in-house role.